Cherry Blossom Procession 4 2 49

[13:25] <Yanmei> When was the last time Yanmei had ridden around in a car like a normal person? -
[13:31] <Yanmei> Today she sat with her legs crossed, the tinted window next to her cracked just wide enough to let a pleasant breeze in without revealing her face to anyone else who might have been driving past them on the busy Paris streets. Normal was relative, though. From the outside their vehicle looked like a normal black van, but she knew for a fact that there were lots of bulletproof bits to it,
[13:31] <Yanmei> and that their driver was packing all sorts of exotic weaponry. She was also in the presence of an unusual guest, and she was trying to keep him entertained for the duration of the drive. -
[13:34] <Yanmei> "So I told him I would feed him to that giant firebird of yours if he tried to enter my office again without a reason." She huffed a little, folding her arms as she came to the end of her story. "Honestly. I understand why you brought that criminal on as part of your staff, but he should know better than to try to annoy me during his free time."
[13:36] <Hopeplo> ["Oh boy." Said Kou sympathetically. "He's not still pushing that milk of his, is he?"]
[13:40] <Yanmei> "He is. It's so stupid…"
[13:44] <Hopeplo> ["Mmm. He thinks he can take liberties because he sees you only as a young girl, and he's pretty old fashioned as far as these things go." Said Kou with a sigh. "I'll tell him to knock it off- you have enough to handle without him selling you body-shaming snake oil. If that doesn't work, I'll arrange for him to have an accident, you can rescue him, and his newfound respect for you should allow you to order him around as you like."]
[13:48] <Yanmei> "Or you could arrange an accident and no one rescues him from it." The thought cheered her slightly, judging from the expression on her fce.
[13:50] <Hopeplo> ["True, but what's the use of that?"]
[13:51] <Yanmei> "It's like you don't want to hurt him or something…"
[13:56] <Hopeplo> ["I'd rather see him put to work." Said Kou. "The harder, the better."]
[14:00] <Yanmei> "Hmph. Speaking of work, I'm surprised you two aren't completely overwhelmed right now."
[14:04] <Hopeplo> ["Oh?"]
[14:05] <Yanmei> "Because of the situation in China? We have a lot of room to make changes now, right?"
[14:08] <Hopeplo> ["Yes, and we are." Said Kou. "The reason I'm not overwhelmed is that I planned many of those changes ahead of time, and because I'm a damn fine worker, really."]
[14:13] <Yanmei> "Hmm. Both of those things are true, I guess," said Yanmei with a little smile. "But how are things progressing?"
[14:14] <Hopeplo> ["Good news: only a few politicians of the Eight Way Gate ended up dead!" Said Kou brightly. "And they were accidents. Or very convincing fakes."]
[14:16] <Yanmei> "That's a bit less than expected. Everyone else is in jail, I guess?"
[14:21] <Hopeplo> ["That's right. We're currently in the process of purging the civil service of incompetents and those who benefitted from the Eight Way Gate's spoils-based system, and reviewing old applications and bringing in the new hot stuff. Things are honestly going better than I expected…"]
[14:27] <Yanmei> "I heard that Liu Lin's being cooperative too~ As I suspected she would."
[14:31] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah, it's a relief." Said Kou. "She's a rather bold one, hmm? You should've seen us, watching at home. Deciding to ram Wu's flagship and charge right in… Well, lots of people were preeeeetty nervous."]
[14:33] <Yanmei> "It was surprisingly fun? Next time we should do it with a warship that isn't carrying all of our important personnel and random civilians."
[14:37] <Hopeplo> ["'Surprisingly fun'." Said Kou drily. "I guess I can't complain after what I pulled in Belgium, but it's always funny seeing the faces of all the commanders who'd never dare such risky tactics."]
[14:39] <Yanmei> "Hehehe. Who was panicking the most? I bet it was Harken."
[14:44] <Hopeplo> [Kou snorted. "Hardly. No, they all hid it pretty well, but Harken seemed jealous he wasn't there himself. The one who worried most was Katsuragi. I could tell."]
[14:45] <Yanmei> "That's unusual. I thought she'd be the most likely of the bunch to try a tactic like that herself."
[14:46] <Hopeplo> ["I thought the same thing." Said Kou. "I think it's like… You know how when you're an expert at something, you're really worried if someone else tries it because they're not as good as you and might fuck it up? I think it's that."]
[14:48] <Yanmei> "Tch. So full of herself~"
[14:49] <Hopeplo> ["The luxury of being an expert."-
[14:49] <Hopeplo> ["Or perhaps she was just worried about her little sister?" Said Kou slyly.]
[14:50] <Yanmei> "Really? I didn't see Rei riding on anything during that battle," said Yanmei smoothly.
[14:50] <Hopeplo> ["I mean you."]
[14:51] <Yanmei> "Please. She just likes teasing me."
[14:56] <Hopeplo> ["Like sisters do. And the two of you are alike in a lot of ways…"]
[14:59] <Yanmei> "That's not the first time someone's said something like that," Yanmei muttered.
[14:59] <Hopeplo> ["It's not a bad thing."]
[15:05] <Yanmei> "You two really are getting along these days." A little grin now. "It warms my heart."
[15:20] <Hopeplo> ["Of course it would, Mini-Misato."]
[15:20] <Yanmei> "W-where did you learn that name from?!"
[15:35] <Hopeplo> ["I have my methods."]
[15:43] <Yanmei> "Then you should also know that hardly anyone uses it. More people do tend to call Katsuragi "Big Zhang" though…"
[15:43] <Hopeplo> ["Lie."]
[15:44] <Yanmei> Yanmei stared at him calmly. "What makes you think it's a lie?"
[15:48] <Hopeplo> ["I have my methods."]
[15:51] <Yanmei> "Is it Sophie? Is she your informant?!"
[15:52] <Hopeplo> [Kou smirked.-
[15:53] <Hopeplo> ["I don't want us to become complacent," He said, his smirk fading. "But the tide's pretty strongly turned in our way now. You've no doubt noticed that our financial issues are becoming much easier to tackle?"]
[15:56] <Yanmei> "Changing the subject, I see." Yanmei huffed loudly. "And yes, I've noticed that. It's good because we end up owing people money and resources every time we turn around? Like those stingy Canadians…"
[16:19] <Hopeplo> ["A little bit of largesse with one's money never harmed a reputation…"]
[16:30] <Yanmei> "You're only saying that because we can actually afford it now?" Yanmei grumbled. "I don't suppose our generous reputation would convince one of our fair member nations to provide shelter for a few thousand refugees…"
[16:30] <Hopeplo> ["It might." Said Kou. "You're talking about the refugees from the USSR?"]
[16:30] <Yanmei> "Yeah."
[16:32] <Hopeplo> ["A few thousand refugees don't make a difference here and there to most countries." Said Kou. "If you were asking them to take a million or ten, that'd be a different story. We probably don't even have to ask permission, just say 'We're putting some refugees here, they have significance to the war effort' or something."]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "It'd have to be someplace secure, of course. I don't think anyone could beat the Soviets in the size and security of their facilities but…" she leaned back to think. "The places that come to mind are the United States and China, but one already was unable to protect our civilians before and the other one is a political mess at the moment."
[14:10] <Hopeplo> ["Mmm." Kou rubbed his chin. "I wonder. I have some ideas."]
[14:11] <Yanmei> "Oh?"
[14:13] <Hopeplo> ["It's not gonna make you comfortable, but what about Brazil?"]
[14:16] * Yanmei frowned. "What…? C'mon, be serious. We don't have that kind of relationship with Brazil yet."
[14:17] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah, well, you gave 'em to the Soviets…"]
[14:18] <Yanmei> "In my defense, the Soviets were at least official allies and members of the Federation."
[14:20] <Hopeplo> ["Exactly, which makes them suspicious as a hiding place." Said Kou. "Brazil's larger than Australia, it has dense wilderness… And I think they're friendlier to us than you think. I've been hearing some things."]
[14:23] <Yanmei> "Hmm. What sort of things?"
[14:35] <Hopeplo> ["Remember the raid in Boston that I punked?"]
[14:40] <Yanmei> "Oh, yeah. What about it?"
[14:42] <Hopeplo> ["The UN violated the Vatican Treaty doing it- it had more Evas present than it should've, and we've been broadcasting all the evidence ever since." Said Kou.-
[14:42] <Hopeplo> ["Then we have Germany, you know, all the discussions there. The world's sensitive to the fact that it's about to defect."-
[14:43] <Hopeplo> ["Then finally, China. If we'd lost in China it'd be a different story, but we won easily, and in a big way." Said Kou. "The whole world's realised that the needle's now pointing our way."-
[14:44] <Hopeplo> ["Brazil and the other major Non-Aligned states have been secretly discussing how the UN's triggered the Kingmaker Clause. If the UN had done that and they'd still had Germany and won in China, these nations might've looked the other way, but right now it serves their interests to enthusiastically denounce the UN- and shift into our camp."]
[14:48] * Yanmei was still frowning a little, but… "I'd rather they just join us already? But maybe this will give them a chance to show their support without having to make a full commitment. Baby steps and all that."
[14:51] <Hopeplo> ["Precisely. It also gives them a bit of influence with us, so it acts as an assurance that they won't be just another member."]
[15:00] <Yanmei> "I expect negotiations will go smoothly, but we may have to give them some compensation? And of course, we'll continue to pay for the refugees' food, clothes, and other needs."
[15:02] <Hopeplo> ["Agreed." Said Kou. "Although they may be willing to help us pro bono considering the support we've given them so far."]
[15:06] <Yanmei> "We can certainly ask! Hm. This might really work out!"
[15:11] <Hopeplo> ["Mmmhm." Said Kou. "If we can bring Brazil into the fold, that's another Eva for us, too. Have you met its pilot? I mean, they pretend they don't have an Eva and she's not its pilot, but…"]
[15:18] <Yanmei> "No, I've never had the pleasure? At this rate, though, it will eventually happen."
[15:18] <Hopeplo> ["Mm. You heard much about her?"]
[15:22] <Yanmei> "I'm afraid not. The last time I spoke with an official from Brazil I didn't want to broach the topic."
[15:28] <Hopeplo> ["Hmm. Well, she's a pretty remarkable individual. You might like her, actually."]
[15:29] <Yanmei> "What? Don't tell me you've met her personally?"
[15:31] <Hopeplo> ["Nah, of course not. I've just heard some things, is all."]
[15:34] <Yanmei> "Ooo~ Like what?"
[15:35] <Hopeplo> ["She's a war hero, for starters. Even before she became a pilot."]
[15:37] <Yanmei> "War hero… then she saved someone during a battle or something?"
[15:40] <Hopeplo> ["Not quite. How much do you know about the Amazonian War? It was between Gran Colombia and Brazil."]
[15:43] <Yanmei> "not much? I know that Brazil won and that the two countries haven't been on great terms ever since, but that's about it."
[15:45] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah. Well, Colombia was winning at first, and they took over the area where de Franco lived."]
[15:46] <Yanmei> "What happened then?"
[15:48] <Hopeplo> ["She lived there with her twin sister and her father, and they tried to escape, but the area was pretty locked down. Eventually, they found a tank and used it to break through the Colombian checkpoints… But this actually triggered a Brazilian guerrilla uprising, and they sort of ended up leading it. They led it for years, and as she grew older, de Franco took more responsibility on
[15:48] <Hopeplo> herself. Eventually she led the uprising to break the siege of her home city."]
[15:52] <Yanmei> Yanmei's eyebrows rose. "That's impressive. Four entire years of leading an uprising…"
[15:53] <Hopeplo> ["Mmhm. Her sister was killed during it, though… And from what I've been told she's never been quite the same since."]
[15:58] <Yanmei> "Depressed, huh? And now she's her country's lone secret Eva pilot. That can't be easy either."
[15:59] <Hopeplo> ["No, I imagine not." Said Kou. "She showed interest in de Pteres, though- and the Ayanamis…"]
[16:04] <Yanmei> "Maybe she's lonely?" Yanmei guessed.
[16:04] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah, possible. Perhaps if we incorporate her into our corps, we can alleviate that as well."]
[16:09] <Yanmei> "That would mean revealing Brazil's great secret to the world. While I don't mind doing it, that's something they'll need to be okay with too?"
[16:12] <Hopeplo> ["Mmm… I don't think it'll be too big a deal, but we'll see."]
[16:23] <Yanmei> "Speaking of companionship~ How are things going with Go? I had a little chat with her the other day and gave her some big sister advice."
[16:26] <Hopeplo> ["Oh?" Asked Kou skeptically.]
[16:29] <Yanmei> "Of course! I helped her to pick out a design for a new swimsuit and I nudged her into being more considerate about treating you like an adult? Also Katsuragi was there."
[16:30] <Hopeplo> ["Oh good! Splendid." Said Kou darkly.]
[16:31] <Yanmei> "You're welcome," Yanmei beamed.
[16:32] <Hopeplo> ["So what damage did you do, then?"]
[16:33] <Yanmei> "None! We were helping!"
[16:34] <Hopeplo> ["How?"]
[16:35] <Yanmei> "She was under the impression that you were a child because of how short you are. We just… enlightened her."
[16:36] <Hopeplo> ["… How?"]
[16:39] <Yanmei> "We just gently and empathetically told her the truth and she eventually believed us."
[16:42] <Hopeplo> ["…"-
[16:42] <Hopeplo> ["And how did she take it?"]
[16:47] <Yanmei> "With a lot of blushing and flailing. I think she even screamed the word 'No' out loud when it finally sank in, like she was the heroine in a drama."
[16:47] <Hopeplo> ["Oh heaven."]
[16:50] <Yanmei> "At least she didn't get a nosebleed, right~?"
[16:51] <Hopeplo> ["… Did one of you try?"]
[16:52] <Yanmei> "Honestly. Just how little do you think of us?"
[16:57] <Hopeplo> ["Katsuragi is almost certainly behind radicalising Akagi to the point of locking myself and Go in an elevator, so… Let's just say if what I thought of you two were a person, you'd have to convince everyone it was an adult too."]
[17:05] <Yanmei> "It's really unfair how you lump me in with her bad behavior."
[17:07] <Hopeplo> ["I wouldn't have to if you weren't a willing colluder."]
[23:34] <Yanmei> "Collaborator. You make it all sound so sordid?"
[23:38] <Hopeplo> ["That's exactly what it is."]
[23:43] <Yanmei> "It's not," said Yanmei firmly. "It wasn't even intentional? We just happened to be there at the same time working toward the same goal."
[23:43] <Hopeplo> ["Which was embarrassing Go and me!"]
[23:44] <Yanmei> "Which was helping Go," Yanmei corrected loftily.
[23:49] <Hopeplo> ["I should've realised that when I asked you to explain things to her, I was throwing her to the wolves…"]
[23:51] <Yanmei> "You're not listening? We were totally gentle. Anyway, it worked, didn't it? She's not still treating you like a baby is she?"
[23:51] <Hopeplo> ["No…"]
[23:52] * Yanmei beamed. "Like I said before. You're welcome."
[00:01] <Hopeplo> [Kou eyed Yanmei suspiciously.]
[00:03] <Yanmei> "You know what could help you two grow even closer~?"
[00:09] <Hopeplo> ["What?"]
[00:10] <Yanmei> "You know she likes books, right? You should invite her to visit a library too! Like the one we're about to visit right now."
[00:11] <Hopeplo> ["We're going to a library…?"]
[00:12] <Yanmei> "That's right! Read to your heart's content."
[00:13] <Hopeplo> ["… Why a library?"]
[00:16] <Yanmei> "Why not? If I dragged you to the mall you'd get all bored and stuff. Besides, Isaiah and Lizzie have requested that I pick up certain titles for them, and I plan to deliver."
[00:19] <Hopeplo> ["Why would I get bored at the mall according to you?"]
[00:20] <Yanmei> "Er… I assumed you'd think it was frivolous?" Yanmei tilted her head. "Wait. You want to go after all?"
[00:21] <Hopeplo> ["Sure."]
[00:23] <Yanmei> "Really?" Yanmei's face brightened. "All right. We'll go after we pick up those books?"
[00:30] <Hopeplo> ["Sounds good."-
[00:30] <Hopeplo> ["… Why would I think the mall frivolous?"]
[00:31] <Yanmei> "It doesn't have anything to do with tactics or politics, or a lot of the stuff you usually do."
[00:40] <Hopeplo> ["Like what?"]
[00:41] <Yanmei> "Like astrology, or taking care of that bird of yours."
[00:43] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah, well. I'm a complicated guy."]
[00:44] <Yanmei> "Hmm. What other stuff do you like doing, then?"
[01:03] <Hopeplo> ["Watchin' people."]
[01:07] <Yanmei> "Oho. What sort of things have you seen while watching people on board the Dorian? I bet you could write a book about the non-verbal junk that happens on the Bridge alone…"
[01:09] <Hopeplo> ["Well, I've seen lots of people become joyful and happy thanks to my fairs?" He said lightly.]
[01:10] <Yanmei> "Not one person has been stabbed by spies or blown up by one?"
[01:11] <Hopeplo> ["Uh, you'd hear about it."]
[01:11] <Yanmei> "Unless Simon decided to cover it up for some reason."
[01:17] <Hopeplo> ["She hasn't."]
[01:18] <Yanmei> "Mmph. I suppose I can believe you. In that case, it sounds like the fairs have been working out pretty well…"
[01:19] <Hopeplo> ["As I told you they would."]
[01:23] <Yanmei> "You must be proud."
[13:47] <Hopeplo> ["Eh."]
[13:49] <Yanmei> "It's okay to brag about it?"
[13:49] <Hopeplo> ["Honestly, I'm more worried about this banquet."]
[13:49] <Yanmei> "Worried? Tell me how I can help?"
[13:56] <Hopeplo> ["You don't mind if I import some things?"]
[13:57] <Yanmei> "Like food? Sure!"
[13:57] <Hopeplo> ["Sure, like food. Or a tree."]
[13:58] <Yanmei> "Like… a peach tree?"
[14:00] <Hopeplo> ["Yeah."]
[14:03] <Yanmei> "Are you gonna put it back when we're done with it?"
[14:04] <Hopeplo> ["Um. No."]
[14:09] <Yanmei> "Well, I don't know if it will thrive on the ship after the banquet. Maybe we can replant it in the Geofront? Anyway, you have my permission."
[14:09] <Hopeplo> ["I'm not gonna replant it, I'm gonna cut it up."]
[14:10] <Yanmei> "H-huh? Why?"
[14:10] <Hopeplo> ["Well, okay. I'm gonna cut up one of them. The other one I can replant in the Geofront, sure." He said.-
[14:10] <Hopeplo> ["Or maybe I can cut off a really big tree's branch? That might work. Anyway, I want to make a sword out of it."]
[14:16] <Yanmei> "Peach wood sword, hm? Sounds like someone's planning on taking out some demons~ You have my permission for that too, by the way."
[14:17] <Hopeplo> ["Neat." Said Kou with a small grin. "I figured it could have ritual significance for the banquet, and afterwards I can use it as my personal badge of office. Hit insubordinates with it, you know, wave it dramatically at the enemy to signal an advance, that kind of thing. Honestly I just need something to keep my hands occupied in battle."]
[14:20] <Yanmei> "But mostly it'll look cool~ We should get you a cape too."
[14:20] <Hopeplo> ["Nah."]
[14:21] <Yanmei> "C'mon. We're going shopping anyway, so we might as well do it~"
[14:23] <Hopeplo> ["No capes."]
[14:24] <Yanmei> "Hmph. Your choice? But you're missing out."
[14:25] <Hopeplo> ["Only if it were like, an opera cloak or something."]
[14:27] <Yanmei> "We could probably get Blue to make one of those if we can't find it in a store!"
[14:28] <Hopeplo> ["Sounds good. Are you gonna buy new clothes for the feast too…?"]
[14:30] <Yanmei> "It'd be boring if I showed up in the usual dress uniform? Maybe I should put on a gown."
[14:31] <Hopeplo> ["What a good idea."]
[14:33] <Yanmei> "A gown with an elegant ermine cape. Maybe a crown too~"
[14:39] <Hopeplo> ["Nope."]
[14:45] <Yanmei> "Tch. So boring. Oh well~ It'll be a few minutes until we get to the library. Why don't you tell me about the guest list in the meantime…"
[14:46] <Hopeplo> ["Sure, but no spoilers…"]


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